Machu Picchu & Galapagos Trip Highlights

  • Experience a variety of vibrant indigenous Andean cultures
  • Ride the rails in a historic train along the ancient Inca Trail
  • Explore the Lost City of Machu Picchu and the Sun Gate
  • Wander the Incan ruins of Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo
  • Meander Cusco’s cobblestone streets and bustling markets
  • Get off the beaten path while discovering the ancient ways of Amaru villagers and bargain for colorful, hand-woven textiles in colorful Pisac market
  • Lunch in a centuries-old hacienda while relaxing in the Sacred Valley

Itinerary Overview

Fascinating history and culture come together with mind-boggling wildlife encounters while lush cloud forest and Andean peaks are contrasted by placid turquoise waters and white sand beaches as you combine two of the world’s most fascinating destinations for the ultimate South American exploration.

Galapagos Island Wildlife

DAY 1  Lima

Arrive Lima. Visit the city’s sites, museums and restaurants.

DAY 2  Lima – Cusco – Sacred Valley

Fly to Cusco and explore Incan stone terraces, subterranean altars, the water temple Tambo Machay, and an Incan fortress. Continue on to charming accommodations in the Sacred Valley.

DAY 3 Sacred Valley – Urubamba and Pisac

Visit the isolated Amaru indigenous community learning of their lifestyle and textile production. Visit Pisac ruins before bargaining for wares in the vibrant market below.

DAY 4 Sacred Valley – Moray and Maras

Visit Incan agricultural terraces and pre-Columbian saltpans before taking the train along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Pueblo.

DAY 5 Machu Picchu

Revel at the sunrise from the Lost City of Machu Picchu perched amidst Andean peaks and lush cloud forest. Enjoy a complete guided tour of the site with time to explore on your own as well.

DAY 6 Machu Picchu – Ollantaytambo – Cusco

Train to Ollantaytambo and see the vast Incan ruins towering above. Lunch at a colonial-era hacienda before continuing to Cusco.

DAY 7 Cusco

Enjoy the day at your leisure exploring dynamic Cusco.

DAY 8 Cusco – Lima – Quito

A short flight to Lima and onward to Quito, Ecuador.

DAY 9 Quito – Galapagos

Fly 600 miles over the Pacific to the Galapagos Islands where you are transferred to your vessel and begin exploring the Galapagos.

DAY 10 – 13 Galapagos

Island hop aboard an intimate yacht and get face-to-face with an incredible array of animal species. Whether walking, snorkeling, kayaking or in a zodiac, you will be overwhelmed with wildlife such as the giant Galapagos Tortoise, marine iguanas, albatrosses, blue-footed boobies and more. Exact itineraries vary depending on the vessel and your available dates. We select partner ships based on expert guides, comfortable cabins, food quality, and overall value. Let us help pair you with your perfect Galapagos experience.

DAY 14 Galapagos – Quito

Return flight to Quito and enjoy a leisurely evening.

DAY 15 Quito – Return Home

Fly home or continue your travels in mainland Ecuador.

Is It For Me?

Exceptional for all ages as well as for families, this multi-country itinerary features exceptional guides, hotels and yacht, cuisine, and excursions throughout which allows you to maximize an incredible itinerary.

Knowmad has vast knowledge and operations in Peru and the Galapagos Islands; this is a private trip and we are happy to modify excursions, accommodations, and the flow of the itinerary to perfectly suit your travel style and interests.

Have questions? Talk to an expert: 612-315-2894

Important Info

2015 COSTSPhotography in the Galapagos Islands

  • $4,835 per person / 4 or more travelers

Additionally, regional airfare is estimated at $1,250 (Lima/Cusco & Cusco/Lima, Quito/Galapagos & Galapagos/Quito—subject to change). Knowmad Adventures is happy to book and issue these tickets for you.

Note: Trip length and price will vary depending on your Galapagos cruise.

TYPE Flexible Date Private Departures. You choose the date, your travel companions and one of our adventures. This is great for families, groups of friends and couples.

LIGHT TRIP Trips suitable for nearly all ages and ability levels. Walks are generally short and on flat terrain. Activities include cultural opportunities, history, optional hiking, train ride, shopping, yacht cruising, snorkeling, walking, optional kayaking.

DEPARTURES Year round; can be set up to match your dates.

LENGTH 13-17 days – 9 nights comfortable hotels, 5 to 8 nights yacht

BEGINLima, Peru ENDQuito, Ecuador

Air Travel

INTERNATIONAL Airfare is not included in the land cost of our trips. You may arrange your international airfare independently, or we are happy to offer our feedback and assistance in helping you book it.

REGIONAL If booked by Knowmad Adventures, internal airfare for this trip (Lima/Cusco & Cusco/Lima, Quito/Galapagos & Galapagos/Quito) averages $1,250, however this is an approximation and the airfare is subject to change upon booking. If you would like to arrange your own regional flights, please consult us prior so we can verify the departure and arrival times.

What's Next?

Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Signing up is easy. Call us at 612-315-2894 or email and reserve your spot. Or simply download our registration form, fill it out, and send it back to us along with your trip deposit. Please refer to registration form for terms & conditions.

Weather & When to Go to Peru and Ecuador

This trip partly takes place in the Peruvian highlands. Throughout the year the average temperature is in the mid-50s °F (10-12 °C) and does not fluctuate greatly. Evenings are cooler. There are primarily two seasons: wet and dry. December through March sees much more precipitation than other times of the year and is the less visited season. As Peru has three distinct climate zones, if you are interested in combining this trip with a visit to the jungle or the coastal areas please inquire for more weather details.

Weather in Peru

Weather in the Galapagos Islands is unique. December through May is considered the rainy season but oddly enough it is also the sunniest time of the year. The water is also warmest during these months, which makes for comfortable snorkeling—yet many species of fish wait for the cooler waters later in the season. Between December and May is breeding season for birds and the mating rituals are fantastic. You can also see sea turtles nesting and sea lions mating. The ocean is calmer during these months as well, so if you’re prone to sea sickness keep this in mind. In February, March and April most all of the Galapagos flowers are blooming.

Between the months of June and November the weather is a little cooler, cloudier and windier, but it can also be a great time to visit the Islands. The Humboldt current arrives during these months, bringing cold water and lots of nutrients and plankton, resulting in a myriad of fish and bird life. This is the best time for diving.

Weather in the Galapagos Islands

Prior to your departure, you are provided a detailed pre-trip information packet including a recommended pack list, information about the regions you’ll be visiting, suggested readings, up-to-date health information including any recommended vaccinations and more.


Our trips feature comfortable accommodations that complement their surroundings. We seek out intimacy and character, but never sacrifice cleanliness and security. We also find the best value for quality. In general, our physically moderate to vigorous trips feature hotels classified as 3+ to 4 stars, while less physically demanding trips feature 4+ to 5 star hotels.

As South American travel specialists, we’re experts and have inspected hundreds of properties. Knowmad is happy to suggest upgrades and alternative hotels based on your preferences to ensure your trip is perfect for you. Photos below are from this itinerary’s preferred accommodations. For more specifics, call or write to request more info, or download the detailed trip itinerary.

Machu Picchu and Galapagos

Accommodations featured in this itinerary are the following:

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 1Lima

Upon arrival you’ll be met at the airport by a Knowmad Adventures representative and taken to your accommodations centrally located in the Miraflores neighborhood. Explore Peru’s diverse and delectable cuisine and visit some of the city’s many sites and museums on your own or, depending on your time, make a guided exploration of the city or learn to make ceviche with a local chef on a culinary discovery.*

DAY 2Lima – Cusco – Sacred Valley

After a short morning flight to the former Incan capital of Cusco where Andean cultures come alive (don’t be surprised when the language doesn’t sound like Spanish – it could be the native Andean tongue Quechua), you’ll be met at the airport and taken for a light lunch. Departing for the Incan sites around town, you’ll visit the fortress Sacsayhuaman and its megalithic stone terraces; Kenko, with its carved stone surfaces and subterranean altars; the Puka Pukara fortress that protected the royal capital from attacks; and the water temple, Tambo Machay.

Driving through the city and into the snow-capped Andean peaks with inspired views you descend past Chinchero village into the Sacred Valley of the Incas where you’ll check in to your hotel, an oasis in this beautiful valley. Take the afternoon to relax while acclimatizing to the altitude (the Sacred Valley is lower than Cusco and the perfect place to gradually acclimatize).

DAY 3Sacred Valley – Urubamba and Pisac

After breakfast you’ll head by van along the Sacred Valley past the communities of Calca, Coya, Lamay and Pisac. From here go completely off the map winding up a small dirt road, which takes you through remote Andean villages and arrives to the Amaru community. This isolated community holds strongly to their ancient customs, and practices a largely subsistence lifestyle on the slopes of the Andes. The Amaru will proudly open their village to you where you will learn of their lifestyle and traditions. Among other things, take part in gathering plants used as natural dyes, learn of their medicinal and culinary properties, and see how the Amaru’s world-renowned textiles are woven and brought to life.

Stay for lunch with community leaders or enjoy a picnic amongst the Pisac ruins that sprawl down the mountainside towards town. If still energized, you can enjoy a gentle hike through the extensive Inca terracing down the mountainside, or go by van, and arrive to Pisac – one of Peru’s largest and most vibrant markets – where you can bargain with Andean campesinos for handcrafted wares. Return to your hotel for a relaxing evening.

DAY 4Sacred Valley – Moray and Maras

Heading out early you’ll arrive to the massive Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. From here hike or go by van (depending on your preference, time, and weather) to the little-known village of Maras where pre-Columbian terraced saltpans are still being harvested in the traditional way by villagers. Enjoy a picnic in this surreal setting before a walk down the Andes to the valley floor where you board the train that chugs along the Urubamba River and parts of the Inca Trail towards the Amazon arriving at Machu Picchu Pueblo.

DAY 5Machu Picchu

Early risers can revel at the sunrise from the Machu Picchu citadel. This incredibly vast archaeological site – lost to the world until well into the twentieth century – is perched amidst Andean peaks and lush cloud forest making it one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. You’ll have the opportunity to get a complete guided tour as you begin to unlock the mystery of the Inca, and also have plenty of time to wander the site on your own. Lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge adjacent to the ruins means you’ll be able to enjoy the whole day without leaving awe- inspiring Machu Picchu. You can also climb the adjacent sacred peak Huayna Picchu for a bird’s eye view.

DAY 6Machu Picchu – Ollantaytambo – Cusco

Taking the train after breakfast, you’ll have time to roam through Ollantaytambo town admiring the ancient ruins towering above. Heading into the valley you’ll stop to enjoy lunch at an authentic colonial-era hacienda before continuing on and arriving in the early evening to Cusco. Your accommodation is an artfully restored colonial-era mansion surrounding a traditional courtyard with Spanish arches and fountains.

DAY 7Cusco

Enjoy the day at your leisure independently exploring a city where traditional Andean cultures,
the colonial Spanish, and modern Peru come together in one of South America’s most culturally and visually dynamic cities. Visit Incan architectural jewels such as Korikancha – the temple of the sun, shop at Andean markets, enjoy savory, wide-ranging Peruvian cuisine, and see the colonial cathedrals built atop Incan foundations around the Plaza Central. We can also arrange guided city tours, a culinary exploration with a top local chef, or – for those bursting with energy – mountain biking, horseback riding, or even whitewater rafting.*

DAY 8Cusco – Lima – Quito

In the morning you will make the short flight back to Lima in accordance with your flight to Quito, Ecuador. Upon arrival to Quito, a Knowmad Adventures representative will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel in Quito. If time permits, you may want to explore some of the architecture nearby to your hotel that has helped Quito’s old quarter be declared a UNESCO World Heritage city.

DAY 9Quito – Galapagos

Fly 600 miles over the Pacific to the Galapagos Islands where you are transferred to your vessel and begin exploring the Galapagos.

  • B, L, D – On yacht

DAY 10 – 13Galapagos

Island hop aboard an intimate yacht and get face-to-face with an incredible array of animal species. Whether walking, snorkeling, kayaking or in a zodiac, you will be overwhelmed with wildlife such as the giant Galapagos Tortoise, marine iguanas, albatrosses, blue-footed boobies and more. Exact itineraries vary depending on the vessel and your available dates. We select partner ships based on expert guides, comfortable cabins, food quality, and overall value. Let us help pair you with your perfect Galapagos experience.

  • B, L, D – On yacht

DAY 14Galapagos – Quito

After disembarking from your vessel you will be transferred to catch your flight from the Galapagos to Quito, where you will be transferred to your accommodations for a leisurely evening. It may be possible to schedule your international flight for the evening and depart directly home.

DAY 15Quito – Return Home

You will be transferred to the Quito airport in accordance with your international flight home.

  • B

Extend Your Adventure

Amazon Jungle

Just a short flight from Cusco, spotting troops of monkeys, colorful macaws and countless bird species, giant sloths, caimans, and maybe even a jaguar or puma in the Amazon Jungle is a traveler favorite. We have scoured the jungle lodges of Peru and can advise you on which experience fits you best while guaranteeing the best value.

Colonial Cuenca

With the most intact colonial character in all Ecuador, Cuenca is both regal and relaxed. This popular Galapagos extension will have you exploring the history, character, and people in and around town. 

Markets & Haciendas of Ecuador

An ideal Ecuador extension for those looking to experience the countries traditional cultures, small towns, scenic landscapes, and colonial architecture in a limited amount of time.

Let The Journey Begin - Call Us: 612-315-2894

Planning a trip to South America might seem a little overwhelming at first and sometimes the easiest way to get started is to simply give us a call 612-315-2894. You’re likely to get company owners Tara or Jordan Harvey on the phone, and we’re happy to chat travel at absolutely no obligation to you. Or send us a quick email at and we’ll get back to you shortly.